Below is a description and pictures of the way that I groom my customers Westies.
'Pet' grooming a Westie means that I will groom the Westie any way the owner wants.
Most of my Westie customers want a Westie pattern, but the length of the hair on the back, the skirt, and legs vary depending on what the owners want.
I also don't do the teased, shaggy Westie heads that you see on the dog bone box and in the Westie breed books.
I don't know about other groomers, but most of the Westies that we have come in our shop don't have the type of hair on their heads needed to give them the 'Breed Standard' Westie head.
When I do get a Westie in that has the right type of hair on their head, the owner does not want the 'Breed Standard' Westie head.
This is one of the sweetest Westies that I groom.
She spends most of her time in the wood behind her house.
Her owners want her to look like a Westie, but they also want her coat easy to maintain.
Most of my Westie customers let me decide the length that I use on the back.
I decide what length that I am going to use by the texture and thickness of the hair.
This little girl has the kind of hair that I love on a Westie.
It is thick, with a mixture of soft plushy hair and wiry hair.
So many of the the Westies that I have come in have a very thin, course straight hair with no plush to the coat at all.
I am not an expert on breeding Westies, so I am not entirely sure which coat is preferred by breeders, but I like the mixture of plushy and wiry.
To me, it is easier to blend, and leaves a really nice finish when clipped with most any length blade.
Since this little girl spends so much time in the woods, and her owners want a length that is easy to maintain, I use a #4F on her back.
I start clipping at the back of the head.
About three fingers down from the occiput bone.
That is the bone that sticks up at the back of the skull, just in case your wondering what the heck I am talking about. :)
My first cut is straight down the spine line.
All of the way to the base of the tail.
I continue down the back turning the blade at a slight angle to blend the back into the skirt.
I slowly turn the blade as I am clipping so that by the time I reach the top of the skirt, my blade is moving straight down, so that I can skim the blade off of the top of the skirt.
You want to turn the blade slowly so that you do not make deep cut marks in the hair.
The arrows pointing up in the picture just means that I am lifting the blade up and away from the skirt.
As you can see, the cut of the blade is smooth and blends nicely into the skirt.
I use the point of shoulder and point of hip as a guide to where I place the skirt.
I only use that as a guide.
How low or high I place the skirt depends on the weight of the dog.
Fat Westies and Scotties look better with a lower skirt, in my opinion.
When clipping around the head and neck, make sure to follow the growth of the hair.
Westies always have a cowlick on the side of the neck, under the ear.
When you bare that cowlick, it looks like you have skinned the dog in that area.
It can be hard to make the owner understand that it was a cowlick that you bared, and that you did not skin their dogs neck. :p
This isn't the greatest picture for showing the front apron...sorry about that.
Once again, what I do with the chest depends on the type of hair, how much hair the dog has on the chest, and how many cowlicks are in that area.
With this Westie, I clip to the breast bone and then lower on each side, matching with the skirt.
That didn't make the least bit of sense, did it?
If you were not able to blend the skirt well with the blade, you can always go back and use thinning shears to blend the skirt and the body better.
Now on to my incorrect Westie head. :)
I start by shaping the beard and side of the head.
I scissor from the front of the beard to the ear.
Then I fold the ear in half and continue scissoring from the beard up into the ear.
Next, I comb all of the hair on the head forward and scissor over the eyes.
After I think I have finished scissoring the eyes, I hold head head down to let the hair fall the way it would if the dog was sniffing the ground and scissor up any more hair that falls forward.
I also, very lightly, scissor down the sides of the head just to blend, shape, and soften the edges.
Blend in the back of the ears and head with either scissors or thinning shears.
I like the head blended neatly into the back.
It would be fun one day to groom a Westies head like I see at competitions and in shows, but that will only happen when I get a Westie with a good head and an owner that will let me groom it that way. :/
Last of all, the tail.
I like to scissor the tail.
I feel that I have more control with the scissors even though I could probably get the same results with a blade.
I start by scissoring the top of the tail, blending it into the body.
While scissoring, remember that you are scissoring a carrot shape.
Leave the tail thicker at the base, tapering to a semi point at the end.
Scissor out well under the tail.
For this Westie, I also shortened up the skirt and legs.
Well, there she is. :)
That is the way that I groom my Westie customers.
Hope this helps. :)
Happy Grooming, MFF